Roe v. Wade Review Example

Why is the case important?

Roe v. Wade Brief The central theme of this case was abortion and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.


Texas statutes made it a crime to procure or attempt an abortion except when medically advised for the purpose of saving the life of the mother. Appellant Jane Roe sought a declaratory judgment that the statutes were unconstitutional on their face and an injunction to prevent defendant Dallas County District Attorney from enforcing the statutes. Appellant alleged that she was unmarried and pregnant, and that she was unable to receive a legal abortion by a licensed physician because her life was not threatened by the continuation of her pregnancy and that she was unable to afford to travel to another jurisdiction to obtain a legal abortion. Appellant sued on behalf of herself and all other women similarly situated, claiming that the statutes were unconstitutionally vague and abridged her right of personal privacy, protected by the First, Fourth, Fifth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.

Key Players

1 Appellant: An unmarried pregnant woman, Roe, who wanted to end her pregnancy and was denied the opportunity to do so by Texas authorities. Appellee: Named appellee is Dallas County District Attorney Henry Wade, representing the State of Texas.


Does the Constitution recognize a woman’s right to terminate her pregnancy by abortion?


Inherent in the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment is a fundamental “right to privacy” that protects a pregnant woman’s choice whether to have an abortion. However, this right is balanced against the government’s interests in protecting women’s health and protecting “the potentiality of human life.” The Texas law challenged in this case violated this right. Justice Harry Blackmun delivered the opinion for the 7-2 majority of the Court. First, the Court considered whether the case was moot, concluding that it was not. When the subject of litigation is “capable of repetition yet evading review,” a case need not be dismissed as moot. Pregnancy is a classic justification for a conclusion of nonmootness. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects against state action the right to privacy, and a woman’s right to choose to have an abortion falls within that right to privacy. A state law that broadly prohibits abortion without respect to the stage of pregnancy or other interests violates that right. Although the state has legitimate interests in protecting the health of pregnant women and the “potentiality of human life,” the relative weight of each of these interests varies over the course of pregnancy, and the law must account for this variability. In the first trimester of pregnancy, the state may not regulate the abortion decision, only the pregnant woman and her attending physician can make that decision. In the second trimester, the state may impose regulations on abortion that are reasonably related to maternal health. In the third trimester, once the fetus reaches the point of “viability,” a state may regulate abortions or prohibit them entirely, so long as the laws contain exceptions for cases when abortion is necessary to save the life or health of the mother.

What was the effect of the supreme court case Roe v. Wade?


The Court finds that an abortion statute that forbids all abortions except in the case of a life saving procedure on behalf of the mother is unconstitutional based upon the right to privacy. However, it does allow for regulation and proscription of abortion when the statute is narrowly tailored to uphold a compelling state interest, such as the health of the mother or the viable fetus. The court declined to address the question of when life begins.
Roe v. Wade Summary The Supreme Court ruled in favor of an unwed pregnant woman who sought and was denied an abortion. The Court decided that a Texas statute, which prohibited abortions except in cases in which The life of The mother was at stake, was unconstitutional as a violation of The Due Process Clause of The Fourteenth Amendment. That is, The Court held that The Texas statute, without due process of law, deprived women of The right to choose to terminate their pregnancies.


Sarah R. Weddington Argued the cause for the appellants, Jay Floyd Argued the cause for the appellee, Robert C. Flowers Re-argued the cause for the appellee
US District Court for the Northern District of Texas
Henry Wade
Jane Roe
Burger Court
410 US 113 (1973)
Dec 13, 1971, ReArgued:
Oct 11, 1972
Jan 22, 1973